Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble Review – ImpossiBall

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble Review – ImpossiBall

The Monkey Ball franchise is one that passed me by for a very long time, despite being a lifelong Sega fan. Much of it is likely to do with not owning a GameCube during its heyday and then being far too ‘cool’ for such games in my early 20’s, meaning Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble marks my first true Monkey Ball experience. Coming from developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios of Yakuza fame, Banana Rumble is the 22nd entry in the Monkey Ball Franchise in almost as many years following up 2021’s Banana Mania and the first all-new entry in a decade. After many hours of monkeying around, it’s probably a good thing my ego is taking such a bruising well past the prime of my hand/eye coordination because in spite of an adorable aesthetic, Banana Rumble takes no prisoners in demanding players ‘get good’.  

Banana Rumble Race

With the likes of Katamari as my closest close comparison point, the shift in thinking Monkey Ball requires is a tricky one – players don’t control their Monkey insofar as they tilt the world around them. Combined with intense levels of speed and a timer, and you have a game that’s easy to pick up but extremely difficult to master. Given its Switch exclusive status, I’d advise anyone taking on Banana Rumble to ensure your Joy-Cons aren’t suffering any drift issues because the more difficult levels require a feather touch that a dodgy stick can’t offer, something I found out using my beat up OG Joy-Cons before switching to a newer set. Banana Rumble offers seven playable characters, all of whom have different stats affecting their movement.


From the get-go, Banana Rumble offers a bevy of modes in both solo and multiplayer varieties. Adventure is your standard campaign that sees AiAi and his friends jet set to a multitude of exotic world-spanning locales which inspire the 200 levels within. For a subset of players, this may be the only part of Banana Rumble they dabble with and while the overarching story is a bit twee, the level design keeps the good times rolling, even if later levels in each area might result in stress-induced hair loss.

Adventure Mode

The developers have said they took player feedback on from previous entries in the series to ensure they do a better job of on-boarding new players which feels accurate to a point, but there is still plenty of teeth to Banana Rumble for seasoned players who will no doubt be working on speed and banana acquisition in each level. Like more recent Mario titles, RGG Studios have added a host of Helper Functions for struggling players like Checkpoints, Rewinding and a Ghost Guide, the use of which will disable earning points and prevent Stage Missions from being completed as well as clear times not being saved. These features are actually a lifesaver for younger players like my sons, who struggled with many of the Adventure levels. The Helper Functions can be enabled manually in the Pause menu, or failing a level three times will throw up a screen asking if the player would like them switched on. Banana Rumble also adds a new Spin Dash move, a quick boost allowing players to execute jumps across ramps and small gaps which feels like something I would miss were I to go back to previous entries, so woven is it into many of the new levels

Goal Rush

While it’s not necessary to play online to get the most out of Banana Rumble, it’s the best way to tackle the madness that is the 16-player Battle modes – these can be alternatively played solo with up to 15 CPU players or in couch co-op configurations of 2-4 players but with far fewer CPU players available. The Five modes on offer; Race, Banana Hunt, Ba-BOOM!, Goal Rush and Robot Smash, provide plenty of variety with between two to five courses available for each at the time of launch. Goal Rush and Ba-BOOM! in particular stand out as great twists on the Monkey Ball mechanics, the former putting players into teams hurling themselves through sets of goal posts worth various points with each goal captured giving bonus points at the end of the match, while Ba-BOOM! is a furious game of keep-away where players are trying to avoid or attach a bomb to other players before the timer runs out. While the performance of Banana Rumble is generally solid, it’s in the high-player count modes that slowdown is most apparent. Without this many players, CPU or otherwise though, many of the modes can feel underpopulated and underwhelming. That said, I think most players will find themselves a sweet spot for the number of CPU players they’d like in each mode; Race still does well with lower numbers, but the Team Modes especially thrive on the chaos of an absurd number of monkeys rolling all over the place.

Banana Rumble Boom

Overall, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble is a fairly comprehensive package that should keep series fanatics happy while ushering in newer players like myself more successfully than previous entries managed thanks to the addition of Helper Functions. My sole complaint, that the multiplayer modes could stand to benefit from a few more courses added, is one that may end up solved via updates or additional content packs in future. In the immortal words of one William Frederick Durst, “Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin.”

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch console with code kindly supplied by the publisher.

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